As the proverbial “horse you rode in on” turns-tail and abandons you in your greatest time of need, you unsheathe your absurdly humongous blade and focus on the approaching groans of the undead. In the moments before the impending massacre, you pause and reflect on all the great support you have back home… the pet trainer with her one breast askew, the shop owner and her dangling grey ponytail, the forge-mistress with the rockin’ abs, oh – and that really annoying guy that keeps bossing you around. “Well” you mutter to yourself, “here’s to hoping I can give that chick another stone from this fight to watch her upgrade my sword again. That was hot.” Summoning the power of the ancients, you launch into the air and slam your teenage wrath down upon the heads of an undead horde. The battle has begun.
Sword + Boobs = Win
Undead Slayer is a point-and-slash action game that combines fast-paced combat, unlockable skills, chain-combos, and item upgrades with the allure of… boobs. I mean, how can you go wrong? Your teenage hero, as absolutely stupid as he is, has a real affinity for swinging a sword and does so with ease. You’ll wade through loads of levels cutting-down mobs and using your special abilities to turn the tide of battle which, in all reality, rarely needs turning. So adept are you with your skills that merely running in one direction unleashes a flurry of attacks – few of which call for any human intervention. Once you’ve obliterated enough enemies, you’ll get a shiny trinket and return to the base-of-boobage to upgrade your skills and armaments.
During combat, this game has replaced the usual on screen d-pad with a simple “tap” interface which moves your samurai in the direction you command, automatically hacking at everything that gets in the way. While it’s easy enough in the early levels to simply walk to-and-fro slashing everything to bits, things quickly get more difficult forcing you to rely more on skills, pets, and combos. Once you encounter your first boss, your true understanding of the game will be tested.
The Art Of War
There are quite a number of skills available for unlock as you level, but the impression I got was that the lines between each individual skill were a bit blurry in terms of power and usefulness. Most of the skills simply do AoE damage with the major variance being whether the effect occurs within a radius around the player or a straight line. What’s more, you have limited hot-bar space so you’ll need to choose your skills wisely before battle. One thing it took me a bit to realize re. using skills is that a translucent path appears just before triggering. You can actually swipe to change the direction of this path if you’re fast enough! Very handy for some of those AoE spells.
Pets and allies come into play a little bit further into the game, allies being the first in the sequence. Allies are essentially helper soldiers you’ll discover around the map using the “search” option. If you happen upon a new soldier, you can add him to your arsenal or sacrifice him to upgrade another existing ally’s stats. During combat, you can summon your equipped soldier to evoke nasty combos as well as to give your injured self a break. Certain allies also come with their own skills to be used in battle. Pets, such as the pony and hawk, can also be summoned during combat to give you a short power-up or during the “gold hunting” missions to provide treasure bonuses. Unlike pets, allies cannot be insta-healed outside of combat and take time to recover, so treat them well.
Combos, in my opinion, are really where this game shines – and showcase some major innovation in terms of making the most out of a simplistic tablet screen. As mentioned earlier, tapping in a direction will automatically run and slash everything along the path, but there are more interesting things to be done with your sword than meets the eye. For example, a swipe toward a mob will trigger an “execution” move and animation, a double-tap will dodge/roll you out of harm’s way, and tagging-in your ally immediately after a basic attack will create a one-time area attack. There are loads of combos to be discovered in this game, and they are presented to you at the start of certain missions so that you have time to get used to one before the next is explained.
Brains Behind The Brawn
At first, I’d expected Undead Slayer to be yet another simplistic, hack ‘n slash type, anime-style game that baits you into buying gems to unlock content like most Android games do these days. However, I haven’t yet found the need to buy Jade (their form of gems)… or, not enough need that breaks the game anyway. As I made my way through a few missions, the various components of the game were presented to me in an easily-digestible, “one at a time” tutorial fashion – from training to skills to weapon upgrades to allies. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the layers of depth the developers have packed into this action game, and if you combine this will the game’s over-all flawless performance and speed… Very impressed. I never once encountered a force-close or other technical issue on my Nexus 7, and the in-combat interface has remained consistently snappy and responsive throughout my testing. While the story certainly… well, isn’t there at all… it’s merely a backdrop for the awesomeness that Undead Slayer presents on the battlefield. The only minor qualms I have with the game are the small size of the maps and somewhat automated form of control during combat.
In short, Undead Slayer is worth every penny that you don’t spend on it (it’s free) and is really a solid action/rpg hybrid game. If you have tablet-style device with a big enough screen to swipe the combos on, picking this game up is a no-brainer. Though, the removal of the virtual d-pad has me wondering…
Do you, the reader, prefer this new style of interface or would you rather have had a d-pad option? I find myself wondering if the additional control (plus an attack button) would have made this title feel a little less automated. Thoughts?